RACE-GOERS flocked back to Warrnambool earlier this month for the first carnival since the COVID-19 pandemic started, returning record figures in wagering turnover and membership.
A record $62.12 million was waged across all betting platforms which is an increase of 19 per cent on 2019 figures while for the first time in the history of the club membership topped 2000 members with 2066 members signed on and attendance for the carnival was 26,549.
Warrnambool Racing Club CEO Tom O'Connor said the three-day racing carnival was a significant event for the thoroughbred racing industry and south-west Victoria as it injected $15 million into the local economy.
"After a spectator free two-day event in 2020, the goal was always to deliver a grand event for the Warrnambool community in 2021 and with the support of the volunteer committee, full-time staff, the casual workforce, and contractors we were able to achieve this." O'Connor said.
"We had to put COVID-19 measures in place under the Victoria Government's Public Event Framework for the carnival after we were notified on March 11, we could have 12,000 patrons on-course each day and we achieved it with outstanding results."
O'Connor said the massive wagering growth comes at an ideal time for the Warrnambool Racing Club.
"We've been working with Racing Victoria about lifting prizemoney for the benchmark and maiden races to mid-week metropolitan standard over the carnival," he said.
"Prizemoney increases for the Warrnambool Cup, Wangoom and feature jumps races are also on the radar.
"It is imperative that the prizemoney across the carnival reflects the status of the event being Victoria's Premier Country Racing Carnival."
The Warrnambool Racing Club now looks forward to the remaining three race meetings for the 2020-21 racing calendar in June and July.
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